Navigating relationships can be a complex and layered experience. Whether we are in a romantic relationship or developing a friendship, there are so many intricacies and nuances to consider. However, there are ways to dig deeper and connect more intimately with a romantic partner, as well as with yourself. One thing that is unexpected in relationships is what you learn about yourself. Sometimes it is these lessons that give you the greatest insight into your dating patterns.
Besides identifying your love language, it is also important to look into your attachment style, or in other words, how you connect with others. Before we go further, let's get a working definition of attachment styles. According to research conducted by Dr. Cindy Hazan and Dr. Phillip Shaver, attachment is "a biosocial process by which affectional bonds are formed between adult lovers, just as affectional bonds are formed earlier in life between human infants and their parents." So what does this all mean? Basically, how you were raised and how your parents reared you determines how you attach to people in relationships later in life.
This is commonly referred to as the attachment theory.
So why is it important to understand your attachment style in relationships?
According to Dr. Ayanna Abrams, a licensed clinical psychologist, "Knowing your attachment style is important because it helps you understand how you organize your world. It helps you to understand how you view yourself in relation to other people and how you tend to view other people in relation to yourself." In close intimates relationships, this is crucial because it can explain why you might push a partner away or why you may cling too closely to people. Depending on which attachment style you lean towards, you can gain insight into the way you bond with people and reveal patterns around dating habits.
There are four attachment styles that can be identified between adults in a relationship: secure, anxious-preoccupied, dismissive-avoidant, and fearful-avoidant.
How you fall into each category depends on a few factors: how you engage and think about closeness and emotional intimacy, how you communicate, how you listen and understand your emotions as well as your partners, your conflict resolution skills, and the expectations you place on your partner or relationships. Each attachment style has a distinct underlying basic characteristic that involves closeness or how comfortable you are being intimate and emotionally close with another person. It also involves a default to dependent/avoidant behavior. Simply put, dependent/avoidant behavior refers to how comfortable you feel depending on people or having people depend on you. Lastly, there is a component of anxiety. This means the amount of fear you have around a partner rejecting or abandoning you.
What are each of the attachment styles?
Secure Attachment: In this attachment style people are low avoidance and low anxiety. They feel safe in relationships, are comfortable with intimacy, are not worried about rejections, and are not preoccupied with relationships. People in this category tend to be more satisfied with their relationships. As a child, they view their parents as a secure base and feel they can venture out into the world and explore independently. This is also displayed in their adult relationships with a romantic partner where they feel secure and connected while allowing themselves and partner to move freely. They often are able to support their partners when they are troubled. These relationships are honest, open, and equal. Both partners feel independent and loving towards one another. People in this category do not participate in a "Fantasy Bond", this is the belief that connections provide a false sense of security. Couples that fantasy bond do not engage in real acts of love but act in a more robotic, routine way that puts distance between them and actually emotionally relating.
Anxious-Preoccupied: This attachment style is low in avoidance and high in anxiety. People in this category crave closeness and intimacy from their partners but are extremely insecure in their relationships. They are often searching for their partner to rescue or complete them as a person. This can manifest in behaviors that are seeking safety by becoming very clingy but in turn, push away their partner. Even with their desperate and insecure actions, the behaviors more times than none, only serve to exacerbate their own manufactured fears. When they become possessive towards their partners, any independent actions exhibited by their partner may only confirm their fears.
Dismissive-Avoidant: People who fall into this attachment style are high in avoidance and low in anxiety. They are normally uncomfortable with being close or intimate with other people. They also value their independence and freedom and oftentimes do not worry about their partner's availability. There is a tendency for people in this category to be emotionally distant from their partners. They can appear to be self-centered and only focused on themselves while attending to their own needs. Something else unique to this group is their ability to shut down in emotional situations and turn their feelings off with little to no reaction.
Fearful-Avoidant: This attachment style is high in both avoidance and anxiety. Here, people feel not only uncomfortable with intimacy but worry that their partner is not committed or does not love them. Essentially they feel a state of being afraid of being both too close or too distant from others. They often have trouble keeping their feelings under control, not being able to avoid anxiety but also not being able to run away from their feelings. Unpredictability in their moods is common with fearful-avoidant people. They struggle with wanting to land securely with their partner but also feeling this same person will hurt them. They almost never get their emotional needs met when they are in a relationship.
When you identify what your attachment style is, what's next?Shutterstock
If you find that you are securely attached, great! Continue to move forward in this way with people who respect and honor you while still building healthy relationships. However, if you find that you are in an attachment style that is undesirable or not beneficial, can you change your attachment style? The answer is yes. Dr. Niecie Jones, a psychotherapist, suggests doing reflexivity work, or inner reflection, to understand where certain behaviors and patterns may have begun.
Also when doing the work towards changing your attachment style, she adds, "Think of different people in your life, could be mentors, could be friends, who seem to be more open with their boundaries or with their trusting. Find certain things that they are able to say or do as habits that have helped them be more trusting and try to adapt those into your life." So there is hope. If you are thinking about starting this work, look to yourself first.
Where do you go for help to develop a new attachment style?
There are several types of resources that can help you discover a new attachment style. Ranging from books to actual in-person therapy sessions, there is a wealth of information. For some helpful reading to learn more about how attachment styles affect your love life, check out Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson. In it, a therapy called emotionally-focused couple therapy is discussed and how your emotional attachments to your partner are the same as a child to a parent. This book also offers ways to save your relationships by "re-establishing emotional connection," with others.
However, both Dr. Abrams and Dr. Jones agree that help from a professional therapist is ideal in recognizing patterns and developing tools to engage yourself as well as others. Also, if you are in relationships and trying to work through these obstacles, it can be a difficult process. It a good idea to have a professional observe what is going on to identify the attachment styles that may be causing blocks in your romantic partnerships as well as any other relationships you might have in your life. The main key to success in relationships though is both people have to completely invest in the process.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Shutterstock
- How To Love Without Being Clingy - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- WTF is a Frozen Five? - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness ... ›
- Turning Fearful Love Into Fearless Love - xoNecole: Women's ... ›
- Shan Boody Dating, Frozen Five - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
Sabrina Dhowre Elba Admits To Not Initially Knowing Who Idris Elba Was When They Met
Model and entrepreneur Sabrina Elba recently recalled the intimate moments surrounding the fateful day she first encountered her husband, Idris Elba.
The couple, who have been together since 2017, met at a jazz bar in Vancouver when Idris was working on his film Mountain Between Us. Years later, in April 2019, following a whirlwind romance, Sabrina and Idris would tie the knot in Morocco.
Since then, the pair's love story has become "couple goals" among many for various reasons. The list includes the numerous times Sabrina and Idris have showcased their love on social media. Another factor contributing to the duo's likability is that Sabrina and Idris have displayed over the years that being with the right partner can elevate one's career or passion in life.
Sabrina and Idris have collaborated professionally in several businesses, including their Coupledom podcast and skincare brand S'Able Labs. In a June interview on Jemele Hill's Unbothered podcast, the 34-year-old opened up about the events leading up to when she met Idris and how she initially didn't know who he was.
Sabrina Dhowre Elba on Meeting Idris Elba
Sabrina, who was living in Vancouver at the time, said that the same night Idris was in town, she went out to a jazz bar for an event called Slow Jam Sunday for a friend’s birthday.
Around that time, the model was getting over a breakup and claimed she wasn't interested in a relationship because of how badly her previous one ended. In a past interview, Idris revealed that he, too, just went through a breakup before meeting Sabrina.
"This is so funny. I [had] just gotten out of a really bad relationship, so I was not this person. I was like 'men are trash. They suck.' I'm literally ready to switch it on up or something because I was so over it," she said. "I come to this party with a night off at work that I prebooked because I was working literally every weekend. But it was my girlfriend's birthday party, so I was there kind of by chance."
Sabrina also revealed that, coincidently, the night she took off for her friend's birthday celebration was the same night Idris had the day off and was convinced by his stunt double to attend Slow Jam Sunday.
"Slow Jam Sundays is an amazing night in Vancouver. It's the one night I would probably go to, but you wouldn't see me out often because I was a weekend worker. I was working at restaurants and service industry, your weekends are taken up," she stated.
"Idris was filming this film in Vancouver and had one night off in Vancouver because most of it was filmed sort of up north in the mountains. His stunt double convinced him to go to Slow Jam Sundays. By chance, we were both there."
Further into the interview, Sabrina disclosed that her friend was interested in Idris at first and went to flirt with him. However, the Daddy's Little Girls star dismissed the friend's advances because Sabrina had caught his eye.
When Sabrina's friend informed her about what happened, she admitted that although she tried to put up a front for her friend's sake, the S'Able Labs CEO was happy because she thought he was also attractive. Following the discussion, Sabrina and her friend went to the section where Idris was, and the couple realized how much they had in common, from the music choices to their background.
"So I go over, and we have like one of those conversations that you just feel like you've known this person for ten years because we're singing the same songs. When a song comes on that I love, he's like, 'I love this song.' I'm like, 'what?' Like I just had this like cultural connection. He's African. I'm like,' Where are you from?'" she said.
Sabrina On Not Knowing Who Idris Was After Meeting Him
As the topic shifted to Idris' celebrity status, Sabrina explained that she didn't know who he was until after it was brought to her attention by a few people she met outside of the bar.
"When I went outside, I realized because there's a group of people there, they're like, 'Oh, you're talking to Idris Elba,'" she stated.
When asked about how well-known the actor was when they met, Sabrina shared that Idris was widely famous in America but not so much in Canada and that the one film she saw him in was the 2009 thriller Obsessed.
Sabrina would add that even after being told who Idris was, she couldn't recollect where she knew him from until her friends mentioned the movie.
"Well, so the film that I had seen was Obsessed... I feel Idris Elba now he gets recognized so much. In that moment, unless you were kind of in that zeitgeist, he was definitely a lot more popular in America," she said. "I don't think I would've known it even when they said that was him. I was trying to remember, like, my friends were like, 'yeah, he's from Obsessed.' We're like, 'Oh, yeah.'"
After figuring out who Idris was, Sabrina shared that when she re-entered the venue, she doubted a relationship would form between them given his occupation, the short timeline he would be there to shoot his movie, and the constant temptation that could flock around him due to his status. But despite Sabrina's uncertainty, they would exchange numbers before she left.
"So I went back inside, we started chatting some more, and he was like, 'Let me take your number.' I was like, 'Alright,' and then I left," she stated.
The model explained the reason why she left the event was that her friend, whose birthday she was celebrating, wanted to check out other spots. When the night was coming to an end, Sabrina hailed a taxi to go home when she received a phone call from Idris. The entrepreneur revealed that the Takers star stopped her from entering the cab and urged her to get in the car he was driving, and they spent the whole night talking until 8 a.m.
"I got in his car, and we spoke till like 8 a.m. easy. It was probably like 2 [a.m.] at that time. We just had the most intense, amazing conversation," she said. "It was the first time I ever connected with someone to the point where I was like, I went home the next day called my friends, I was like, 'I think I found my soulmate.'"
Sabrina revealed that from that fateful night, she and Idris became inseparable. The couple would be long-distance for a brief stint of their union until they acknowledged how difficult it was to maintain that type of relationship. Sabrina ultimately decided to move in with Idris although she was skeptical at first, she claimed it was one of the best decisions she's made because she found her "soulmate."
Sabrina Elba's First Night with Idris Elba Sounds Like a Romance MovieModel and philanthropist Sabrina Elba joins Jemele to discuss her marriage to actor Idris Elba, and their heartwarming, love at first sight origin story.SUBS...
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Space NK